Kolkata: Aparupa Poddar, a Trinamool Congress MP, on Tuesday moved the Calcutta High Court seeking dismissal of a first information report (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier this month, naming her as one of those who received “illegal gratification" from a representative of a news organisation.
But the court refused to intervene. In the past week, the Trinamool Congress has weighed several legal opinions, and this was the first instance of a party leader moving court seeking to stall the CBI’s investigation into Narada News’ sting operation.
Poddar, MP from West Bengal’s Arambagh constituency, is among 12 Trinamool Congress leaders seen receiving cash in a sting operation conducted by Narada News, a portal, in 2014. The video footage was released a year ago.
After the police in Kolkata initiated an investigation into the sting operation, the Calcutta High Court intervened and asked the CBI to probe people seen in the video receiving cash.
The state challenged the Calcutta High Court’s verdict, but it was upheld by the Supreme Court. The CBI filed an FIR on 16 April, and started its probe under the Prevention of Corruption Act against top Trinamool Congress leaders, who are MPs or cabinet ministers in West Bengal.
Poddar’s lawyer Sidharth Luthra said in court that when the sting operation was conducted in 2014, she had not yet won the election to become an MP, and hence the Prevention of Corruption Act was not applicable to her.
But justice Joymalya Bagchi declined to intervene. Without imposing any restriction on the ongoing CBI investigation, Bagchi said the matter would be heard again on Friday.
A section of lawyers close to the Trinamool Congress party are of the view that the FIR should not have been challenged. “With the apex court ruling that the CBI should probe the matter, our advice was not to challenge the FIR," said one of them, asking not to be named.
Previously, 11 of the 12 Trinamool Congress leaders named in the FIR had met in Kolkata to discuss strategies to defend themselves.